Insurance changes could cost you more

If another catastrophic hurricane hits the Gulf Coast, Southeast Texans could experience an increase in auto and home insurance premiums to cover property damage, even for those who are not property owners.

The surcharge would only affect residents who live in one of 14 coastal counties.

State Rep. Joe Deshotel (D-Beaumont) invited Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber to Beaumont for a public hearing, where citizens were able to voice their concern regarding rules associated with House Bill 3, which was passed in 2011.

The law states the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association has the ability to issue bonds in the event of a catastrophe that exceeds its funds.

Texas Department of Insurance, Public Information Officer Jerry Hagins, said the new rules will help establish a funding structure for TWIA and a method to pay back those bonds.

The Texas coast is responsible for about 35 percent of the state's economic output. Southeast Texans like Nikki Piekenbrock believe the changes will negatively impact the state's economy and that the rule discriminates against Texas Gulf Coast Residents.

"I called to get insurance yesterday it was $892 just for six months and that's not a sports car," she said. "I can't even imagine for them to add 20% on top of that every year for the next four years there's no way." 

Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, or TWIA, is a governmental agency created to protect coastal policyholders. However, analysts have said TWIA would be in receivership or "out of business" if it were a private insurance company.


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